The nation is awash in gun violence. There is a looming threat from the Zika virus. Racial tensions are at what may be a 50 year high. But what did GOP platform writers decide is such a crisis that it needed to be singled out in their statement of party positions? Porn.
Yahoo News reports that a proposed “plank” in this year’s Republican party platform will declare that porn is a “public health crisis” and a “public menace.” That’s a huge change from the 2012 platform, that addressed child pornography but said nothing about material featuring sex among consenting adults.
The new position on porn comes courtesy of an amendment offered by a North Carolina delegate named Mary Forrester. Prior to the amendment, the platform’s section on porn called for the “energetic prosecution of child pornography” and said that the internet cannot be allowed to become a haven for sex offenders.
In an interview with Yahoo News, Forrester explained that she had prepared the amendment with the help of the group Concerned Women For America, a right-wing “Christian” organization. She spoke of her concerns:
It’s [porn] such an insidious epidemic and there are no rules for our children. It seems to be for young people, they do not have the discernment and so they become addicted before they have the maturity to understand the consequences.
“Consequences?” Like hairy palms, or near-sightedness? Or maybe Forrester, like many on the “Christian” right, just can’t stand the thought of someone masturbating. Because let’s face it, out of all of the things blamed on pornography, the only one that has been completely verified is that it makes many people decide to masturbate. Yes, there are some people who go overboard into porn, but there are also a lot of people who go overboard into religion. A “public health crisis?” Please.
Richard Nixon assembled a panel, the Presidential Commission On Obscenity And Pornography, in 1970. Nixon’s belief was that the panel would confirm that consumption of pornography led to sexual assaults and all sorts of bad things. That would allow him to declare a “war on porn” to go along with his “war on drugs” that we now widely regard as a disaster. The panel returned its opinion that viewing pornography is not dangerous for adults, and Nixon had to let the matter drop. Some years afterward, Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese tried again to clamp down on adult material with only slightly more success. Throughout the Reagan years, Meese led the attack on porn via local prosecutors who attempted to basically force pornographers out of business by bankrupting them with cases in multiple jurisdictions, often using the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute.
It’s funny that Republicans are again trying to declare war on porn, considering that at least one study has found that conservative leaning states tend to be larger consumers of the material. And pro-business Republicans should be happy that the adult industry is so successful. Porn generates over $10 billion in income in the U.S. each year. That results in a lot of tax revenue.
Then there’s the Constitution of the United States that these folks claim to be so in love with. Apparently, they skipped over the first amendment in their haste to get to the second. Material depicting consenting adults engaged in sexual activity has had restrictions placed on it over the years but is generally regarded by our courts as protected speech.
Republicans don’t want to wage a war just on porn. This is part of a larger GOP war on sex that goes hand in hand with their attacks on women’s right to choose and their demands for “religious freedom” exemptions that allow employers to refuse to pay for birth control. Thousands of Americans die from gun violence every year. Children have been poisoned by tainted water in Flint, Michigan. Even though Obamacare has helped a lot of people, there are still many Americans who do not get adequate health care. And porn gets singled out as a “public health crisis?” Give me a break.
Featured image via Worth1000.com